CLANTON, Ala. (WIAT) – Chilton County leaders are getting closer to breaking ground on a farm center project they’ve been working on for several years, and they hope it will transform the county from a bedroom community to a tourist destination.
Leaders hope to break ground on the Farm Center at ALFA Centennial Park sometime this spring. They want to have a grand opening by August of 2021 to help celebrate the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 100th anniversary. The Farmers Federation will manage the center, which will be publicly owned. They hope it’ll be big for the future of farming in Alabama.
“We want a centerpiece of agriculture in the center of the state for our children, for the next generation of folks in the livestock business, for really a celebration point of agriculture here in Chilton County,” Matthew Durdin, director of external affairs with the Alabama Farmers Federation, said.
Location is a big part of the center’s appeal. Clanton is situated roughly midway between Birmingham and Montgomery, and midway between Huntsville and Mobile. It also offers easy access from Jackson, Miss. and Atlanta. The property itself is 500 acres just off I-65, and it’ll feature multiple facilities that can host events up to 300 days per year. City leaders say it also could lead to more businesses in the surrounding area.
“We’re going to have some other retail stuff that’ll be coming in, and people are already asking about: where can I get some property and that kind of stuff,” Clanton city councilor Bobby Cook said. “And I think it’s going to be a huge impact, not only Chilton County and Clanton, it’s going to be statewide, I think.”
County leaders expect the center to host livestock shows, state fairs, car shows, concerts and more. They say it could attract about 900,000 tourist per year, which could generate millions in sales tax revenue that they’ll use for improvements throughout the county.
“We’ll be able to improve the quality of our school system. We’ll be able to repair some of our roads,” Chilton County commissioner Joseph Parnell said. “We’ll have more people move into the community, so we’ll have more houses. It’s a win-win for Chilton County in any way that you look at it.”